Trump Says He Thought Being President ‘Would Be Easier’

Kevin Lui [time.com]

As the clock ticks towards his administration’s 100-day mark, U.S. President Donald Trump said that he misses the life he had before moving to DC.

“This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier,” he said of the presidency in an interview with Reuters at the Oval Office.

“I loved my previous life,” the former Apprentice host and real estate tycoon said. “I had so many things going.”

Trump told Reuters that he was still adjusting to the limitations on his personal movement and the 24-hour protection that comes with the job. “You’re really into your own little cocoon,” he said, “because you have such massive protection that you really can’t go anywhere.”

The President also said that he misses driving by himself — a limousine or an SUV now usually takes him around, according to Reuters. “I like to drive. I can’t drive any more,” he said.

In the same interview, Trump commented on the prospects of a possible government shutdown, and said that a “major, major conflict with North Korea” could be possible, though he and the administration would prefer a nonviolent resolution.

[Reuters]

Trump Floats Idea of “Breaking Up” the Court Ruling Against Him Like an Old Fashioned Dictator

By Elliot Hannon [slate.com]

 

One of Donald Trump’s favorite things to do, now that he is president, is to make up, and then try to impose, unconstitutional executive orders to change something he doesn’t like and doesn’t have the legislative chops to actually fix. The problem for Trump is that along with a president there is a judiciary in America. That judicial branch has taken to smacking its coequal brethren, the executive branch, upside the head with injunctions to put the brakes on the most odious aspects of Trump’s ambition. After two misfires trying to impose a Muslim ban, Trump’s latest legal defeat came on Tuesday when a federal judge presiding over the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California blocked the Trump administration’s vague plan to strip federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities. Following the setback, on Wednesday, the president of the United States floated his legislative plan B… tinker with the judiciary so that he can do what he wants!

More specifically, Trump told the Washington Examiner that he was considering a proposal to “break up” the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where 18 of the 25 judges were appointed by Democratic presidents, and which covers Arizona, California, Alaska, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington, Hawaii, and two U.S. territories.

“Absolutely, I have,” Trump said of considering 9th Circuit breakup proposals during a far-ranging interview with the Washington Examiner at the White House. “There are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit. It’s outrageous.”

“Everybody immediately runs to the 9th Circuit. And we have a big country. We have lots of other locations. But they immediately run to the 9th Circuit. Because they know that’s like, semi-automatic,” Trump said…

“The language could not be any clearer. I mean, the language on the ban, it reads so easy that a reasonably good student in the first grade will fully understand it. And they don’t even mention the words in their rejection on the ban,” Trump said. “And the same thing with this [sanctuary city decision]…

The comments were an extension of Trump’s Twitter tantrum after the “sanctuary cities” decision.

Tuesday’s decision was, of course, not actually decided by the Ninth Circuit court, but that would be the next stop for Trump’s order and it was where portions of both of his Muslim bans were shot down. So, what’s Trump’s solution to the impasse? Rather than go back and write an order that fits within the confines of the American system of governance and abides by the principles laid out in the Constitution, the president of the United States would apparently prefer to simply “break up” the court that’s impeding him. You know who else does that? Dictators.

The first 100 days of failure

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Good news: so far, many of Trump’s wrongheaded impulses are being blocked by his inability to govern, together with a massive wall of opposition. Even better: as a 70-year-old man who doesn’t listen to advice, he’s not learning very fast. But we can’t let down our guard. He may eventually figure out how to do something – or hand over control to someone who can.

Here’s a good summary of his first 100 days, by David Leonhart.

Trump has made no significant progress on any major legislation. His health care bill is a zombie. His border wall is stalled. He’s only now releasing basic principles of a tax plan. Even his executive order on immigration is tied up in the courts. By contrast, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan had made substantial progress toward passing tax cuts, and Barack Obama had passed, among other things, a huge stimulus bill that also addressed education and climate policy.

Trump is far behind staffing his administration. Trump has made a mere 50 nominations to fill the top 553 positions of the executive branch, as of [last] Friday. That’s right: He hasn’t even nominated anyone for 90 percent of its top jobs. The average president since 1989 had nominated twice as many, according to the Partnership for Public Service.

Part of the reason is a lack of execution: The administration has been slow to make nominations. And part of the reason is who is being nominated: A disproportionate number of affluent investors and business executives with many potential conflicts of interest that require vetting. Either way, the effects are real. The executive branch can’t push through the president’s priorities if it doesn’t have his people in place.

The Trump administration is more nagged by scandal than any previous administration. No new administration has dealt with a potential scandal anywhere near as large or as distracting as the Russia investigation. It could recede over time, true. But it also could come to dominate the Trump presidency.

Trump has no clear foreign policy. Is he protectionist, as he appeared to be when starting a trade spat with Canada on [last] Tuesday, or a globalist, as he appeared when backing off his criticism of China? Is he an isolationist, an interventionist or some alternative? No one seems to know, which confuses allies and does a favor for rivals who would welcome diminished American influence.

Trump is by far the least popular new president in the modern polling era. His approval rating is just 41 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight. All other elected presidents since Roosevelt have had an approval rating of at least 53 percent after 100 days. (Gerald Ford was at 45 percent.) Some, including Obama, Reagan and Johnson, have been above 60 percent.

Trump’s low approval isn’t only a reflection of his struggles. It also becomes a cause of further struggles. Members of Congress aren’t afraid to buck an unpopular president, which helps explain the collapse of Trumpcare.

Obviously, Trump can claim some successes on his own terms. Most consequentially, he has named a Supreme Court justice who could serve for decades. Trump has also put in place some meaningful executive orders, on climate policy above all, and he has allied the federal government with the cause of white nationalism, as Jonathan Chait wrote.

Trump remains the most powerful person in the country, if not the world. It would be foolish for anyone to be complacent about what he can do. Yet by the modern standards of the office, he is a weak president off to a uniquely poor start.